Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Teaching (PGCert) Academic Professional Apprenticeship (APA) [Specialist Role in Teaching]

The PGCert and APA are both routes to a teaching qualification in Higher Education and Advance HE fellowship (FHEA). Both routes share the same taught modules and some practical requirements. The APA route requires further commitments from applicants and their employers. 

Programme requirements

Applicants for both routes must be engaged in 125 hours of teaching and supporting student learning across the academic year. We interpret ‘teaching’ in a broad and inclusive way to include all disciplines and all contexts of student learning, whether online or in situ, live synchronous or asynchronous sessions, on or off campus (including clinical settings), theory or practical-based sessions, large-group, small-group, or highly personalised sessions. However, applicants must be able to follow the progress of learners and to provide formal or informal assessment and feedback.

Applicants for both routes must have a specialist subject mentor. Your Line Manager will need to allocate a mentor: a named colleague, from your broad discipline area, who will support and advise you during the programme, and who will observe your teaching on at least two occasions and provide feedback. Mentors should hold a minimum of FHEA, although where this is not the case, mentors should have 5 years’ experience of teaching and supporting learning in HE. 

All applicants will need to commit to attending fortnightly taught sessions and should anticipate routinely committing half a day on Wednesday afternoons and a full block day at the beginning, middle and end of the taught programme.

Colleagues undertaking the Academic Professional Apprenticeship will require one day a week off timetable (i.e., 20% remission of time) to include the PGCert taught sessions and peer learning activities. 

The signatures of Heads of School or line managers and mentors are required to demonstrate your employer’s support for the above commitments and to verify that you meet the minimum teaching hours.

Taught modules

All participants take the following two modules and, on successful completion, are awarded Keele University’s Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Practice.

  • Module 1: Teaching Reflectively in Higher Education (30 credits), comprising an in-situ induction, six online workshops, tutor group discussions, and an in-situ conference.
  • Module 2: Design and Development in Higher Education (30 credits), comprising seven online workshops, tutor group discussions, and an in-situ end-of-programme showcase.

This is a holistic programme with themes and assessments that overlap between modules. As such Accreditation or Recognition of Prior Leaning (APL/RPL) is not possible for individual modules. However, you are welcome to draw on any previous relevant experience in your reflections. 

Additional APA components

Applicants who pass the national eligibility criteria for the APA take the following additional components and, on successful completion, are conferred the award of level-7 (postgraduate) ‘Academic Professional’:

  • A bespoke programme of training aligned to the APA Standards over the summer
  • End-Point Assessment (EPA)
  • Support meetings between participant, his/her line manager, and the programme

In undertaking apprenticeship training, the employer and apprentice are committing to undertaking the whole apprenticeship, comprising the degree and the independent End-Point Assessment.  

Advance HE Fellowship (FHEA)

The PGCert / APA modules are accredited by Advance HE, providing external confirmation that the course is aligned with the UKPSF in practice and principle. Candidates who are successful in both the above modules are eligible for Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). You must successfully demonstrate all aspects of Descriptor 2 (D2) of the UKPSF to be awarded the PGCert and FHEA. 

Authentication of Practice (AOP) teaching observations
To meet the requirements for FHEA set out by Advance HE you are also required to undertake two observations to authenticate your practice: These are the observations completed by your mentor in module 1 and module 2, which must be deemed satisfactory.  


The first step in enrolment on the PGCert/APA in Higher Education is to complete and submit an Expression of Interest form, which should be returned to  For applicants who are colleagues at Keele, this will be forwarded to HR for an eligibility check in the first instance. 

We look forward to hearing from you.